On the day Ryan Torres turned 18, he left his home in Billings to pursue his passion in the music industry. It was a semi-nomadic lifestyle, as he followed the festival circuit and took odd jobs where he could.
An immersive experience in the entertainment industry eventually led him to get a degree in entertainment management from the University of Montana.
That would lead to his current position as one of the top executives at one of Missoula's largest entertainment companies, Logjam Presents. He is also the manager and promoter for three of the city's largest music venues: the new KettleHouse Amphitheater, The Wilma Theatre and the Top Hat.
Torres works with hundreds of famous musical artists and performers throughout the year, ensuring that they're happy with their stay in Missoula. It's an important gig, because the local economy gets a huge boost from out-of-town visitors who come here for live music.
Torres said the success of the three venues he promotes is due to the fact that he and his team make sure to focus on quality.
"Quality is one of our core values, and that's one thing that's being lost in the industry," he said. "A lot of people focus on scale and focus on smoke and mirrors. Here, we focus on quality."
No detail gets left out. For example, if artists want to go fishing, Torres makes sure they get a guided raft trip on a local river.
"Our crew is super professional," Torres said. "In a lot of markets, they turn and burn. They don't get the time of day. But here, we take care of the full hospitality rider. They eat well and get their laundry done. Then they go back to their agents and management firm and say, 'This place is awesome.' Then Missoula gets great reviews and we can book bigger shows."
He credits three people with giving him a chance: Nick Checota, owner of Logjam, The Wilma and the Top Hat, JC Barber of the String Cheese Incident tour, and Stacy Kalstrom of the Railroad Earth tour.
Torres is an avid mountain biker and road cyclist, as well as a motorcyclist. His passion for the music industry isn't just a career choice. He estimates he's been to 74 Railroad Earth concerts, and his time on tour taught him that teamwork is essential in the entertainment industry.
"It takes and entire village to make this whole entertainment thing happen," he said. "If it weren't for the amazing people involved with The Wilma, Top Hat and Logjam Presents, it wouldn't be what it is today. From top to bottom, everyone in this organization continues to go above and beyond and that is what keeps the speakers bumpin'."
Torres said all the dishwashers, swampers, bartenders, servers, cooks, door workers, sound techs, stage hands, ticket takers, ushers, security and management have to work together.
"I can honestly say I've never encountered a team that works harder and is more dedicated than the people within this organization," he said.